Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

I Think Therefore I Am Just Getting Started

Written by: on November 6, 2014

Despite my deepening interest in philosophy and my great love for mathematics, Rene Descartes famous statement, “I think therefore I am”, comes up short. While it is true that the capacity to think is in itself a fairly reliable sign of life, it is more true that thinking is just the beginning, there is so much more out in this world that can only be reached as our thinking is extended beyond theories, statements and dogma into real life and real time action.

Patrick Tullens and Ronald T. Michener, in their thought provoking book, The Matrix of Christian Ethics, bring a necessary challenge that is fit for our ever-changing, multi-cultural, techno-frenzied world. “Christian ethics helps place this theological reflection into the context of human activity that visibly demonstrates the charitable graces of the Christian life. Christian morality is about showing the authenticity of our faith commitment.” (p.21) Tullens and Michener make a necessary point of recognizing the imperative of not being satisfied with merely right thinking. They push the reader to examine the way in which right thinking should lead to right actions, right living, right choices – no matter the circumstances.


The issue for us, as followers of Jesus Christ, is our tendency to gravitate toward poor thinking patterns which fail to account for the communities, culture, heritage, traditions of our context. By allowing fear, in the face of increasing pluralist-relativist-postmodern world, to dictate our thoughts we are tempted to look only at ourselves. Some restrict this further, by relegating thinking only to those in leadership. Some restrict this even further by isolating thinking to one person, usually the pastor.

All of this seems, I think, in great contrast, to what God has told us about ‘how to think’ and why it’s important to think: What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us…But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).

In reading, listening and considering these Spirit-inspired words, there is a wonderful promise and a great resource afforded to those who possess a faith in Christ. Together, we, us have the capacity to gain wisdom from God. Together, we, us we have the mind of Christ. There is no hint of singling out one person above another. Instead there is a rich sense of God’s wisdom being shared through His Holy Spirit, which resides in each person who shares a faith in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the greater challenge for those in Christian leadership, is to slow down enough to learn through what the Spirit of God is doing through the lives of others. Additionally, our task in leadership is to help others to learn to think, in keeping with the Spirit as a contribution to the collective mind of Christ. Sometimes, we can make the mistakes, as leaders, to think we’ve got the corner on thinking, by which we then shape the action of our group. We think, we act – everyone else should just follow. Isn’t that what leadership is all about? One of the greatest temptations of leadership is to have people come and ask, “What should I do?” and then give them an action without challenging them to think: along with the Spirit, in accordance with the Word, as part of a whole community, etc.

Jesus had a different way. He understood that right thinking should lead to right action. Conversely, wrong action couldn’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t be corrected without a change in wrong thinking.


  • Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:19)
  • Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? (Mark 4:21)
  • What did Moses command you? (Mark 10:3)
  • Why do you call me good? (Mark 10:18)
  • Where are they? Has no one condemned you? (John 8:10)

These are five small examples through which Jesus avoids giving an answer, rather he invites the other to think and then to challenges them to act on their conclusions.

Followers of Jesus, who serve in leadership roles must become adept at gracefully helping unlearning and relearning according to the Word of God; being shaped by God’s Word and allowing our capacity to engage our roles to be informed through personal time (not as part of the job) consistently spent listening, learning, thinking, understanding and putting into practice. As those in leadership take this responsibility more seriously then they will become more equipped and captivated by the immeasurable joy of seeing Truth come alive in the lives of others, and how it all can come together in giving shape, direction and unity of purpose to a church family. Tullens and Michener recognize the importance of developing an ethical framework as a community: “In community we must develop space for internal plurality and dialogue. It is precisely this openness to internal dialogue that makes the church a genuine moral community.” (p.44)

We cannot be satisfied with merely thinking. Our thinking is just the beginning. It’s only an indication that we’re just getting started. As those in leadership we must give ourselves to helping others think, listen, learn, understand and act, so that together we can all experience the joy and purposefulness of the life we were created to live.

Calvin describes the reason this is important in this manner:


The authors address that search for significance in this manner:

“It is risky to articulate this faith experience in precise dogmatic formulations where we may be more inclined to put our trust in clever definitions than in Scripture itself. We must avoid getting bogged down in the splitting of hairs, locking up the life-infused character of the Bible in our human categories of rationality…God’s Word is useful for a virtuous life…It is about ethical actions, good works, not simply theological dogmatism. Good works, however , begin by listening to the voice of God.” (p.191)



About the Author

Deve Persad

4 responses to “I Think Therefore I Am Just Getting Started”

  1. Ashley Goad says:

    Deve, I always love the way you are able to bring your pastoral abilities to weave Jesus and the Word through the book of the week. Have I said that before?? 🙂 And this week… BONUS! Calvin and Hobbes!?!! You are magnificent.

    This, however, was my favorite part of your post:
    “We cannot be satisfied with merely thinking. Our thinking is just the beginning. It’s only an indication that we’re just getting started. As those in leadership we must give ourselves to helping others think, listen, learn, understand and act, so that together we can all experience the joy and purposefulness of the life we were created to live.”

    We are in this life together. What I do effects you. What you do effects me. If we live in community, loving ourselves as God does, and loving our neighbor as God commands, listening, learning, understanding and acting will be daily actions of our lives. … As leaders, how do we help create that type of community?

    • Deve Persad says:

      Excellent question, Ashley…what we are being more convinced of is providing opportunities and using different mediums to share peoples stories. Through story, we can celebrate victories and share difficulties and it allows the group/church family as a whole to own those stories and share in them…one result is – even though I may not be in a good place on a particular day, I can celebrate God’s faithfulness still because of what He’s doing with my sister or brother in the Lord; which also makes me hopeful that my own experience is a work in progress and God will see me through.
      It’s an incomplete idea, but what we’re working with currently…thanks for asking.

  2. Liz Linssen says:

    Hi Deve,
    Really appreciate your post, especially the closing quote from the authors.
    I totally agree with your promotion of thinking more and better. I remember several years ago I really felt God was saying to me to ‘think more’. As you say, we don’t think enough! And yet, that is where everything starts. It’s the beginning point of change and action. We’re so used to others doing our thinking for us.
    I think of some North Koreans who manage to escape their country and flee to South Korea. Some of the hardest adjustments for them is suddenly having to think for themselves. They’re so used to being told where to live, what job to do and so on. And then they arrive in the democratic and commercial south and they struggle to cope with all the decisions they suddenly have to make.
    Anyway, just to leave you with a question: what is one area that perhaps your church members need to think more in?

    • Deve Persad says:

      You know Liz, getting people to be able to think has been the biggest challenge in ministry. Too often, people want answers or they want me to tell them what they should do. In trying to help turn this around, I’ve tried to be consistent in helping people to seek God, in His Word, and then let’s talk about how they are going to honour that with their next choice. Those who can do this, then find they have so much more to think about; and more importantly they learn to lean on the Lord rather than on a particular leader…great question.

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